Thinking Outside the Tri-angle

author : Ontherun
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For most age-group triathletes, getting the most out of there time for quality workouts can be daunting. Think outside the triangle to get a little more.

Being an age group triathlete can be very exhilarating. We all train for different reasons, with different goals and results. When it comes to training there are no "perfect" workout plans that fit all of our lifestyle issues. Time can be a huge enemy of a really good workout plan. I am no expert on what works for everyone, but here are a few things I have done to get the most out of my "free" time to stay on scheduled workouts.

A little background information first. I am a proud father of two young and energetic children, ages 3 and 6. I work 7AM to 3 PM. I pick up the kids as my wife goes in for work starting at 3:30PM. Workouts can be hard to come by, but a little creativity has taken me a long way. I train more now as a father than I ever did as a single 20 something, doing occasional charity rides, such as the Pan Mass Challenge.

For me, getting up early in the morning allows me to work out before work and frees me from family obligations. This seems to have a small problem though. As winter comes on, it stays dark until I start work some mornings. I have been known to run in the dark on a moderately light running route that I know in my sleep. I know this is nothing special, but it is the foundation of my midseason workouts.

Getting outside the tri-angle.

During the off season, I work out more at night in my basement once the kids are in bed. I have networked for all my workout equipment, except the bike trainer. I have an older bike that sits permanently on a bike trainer in my basement. I do have to be careful not to sit up to quick so as to not hit my head on the main beam directly behind me. I picked up a treadmill and universal weight machine from a co-worker for $50 a few years ago. Since then I have upgraded my treadmill from one that went 5 mph to one that does 10mph. The new treadmill was free from another co-worker who was moving.

Running on a treadmill in my basement is an adventure.

My head is up in between the joists and a good jump would hit my head, let alone a drift left or right. Once I got decent at running in a small area, boredom hit. I was staring at a brick wall 10 inches away. As a solution, I took the kids’ portable DVD player and mounted it on the sill plate. Add a radio, old TV and VCR, and all workouts at least start with a distraction from the boredom.

If a late night is not in order, I take the kids down to a playpen area in the workout room. They eat their dinner and watch a video while I get in 30 minutes to an hour workout.

Sometimes a family obligation gets in the way of a workout.

I have been known to make arrangements to have clothes brought to the family function and either run or ride to the event. Then just take a quick shower (pre-permission is a must) before everything gets going. The same thing goes with going to work. The time spent in a car be used as part of a workout. When I can bike to work it only takes me 10 minutes more than in a car. 20 minutes by car and 30 by bike. It is amazing what traffic lights do to even the odds of time.

Dating getting in the way of workouts?

Get in a trip to the gym as part of the dating process. I worked out with my girlfriend (who is now my wife) for a year at the gym before we got married. We still go downstairs to the basement so she can go for a walk and I for a ride while we watch a movie together. Not exactly romantic, but very functional.

Does your swimming suffer the most?

It is hard to find an affordable place to lap swim at a convenient time sometimes. Solution? I joined a local tri club that happens to open water swim less than a mile from home and is on the way to work. The cost is free and the camaraderie is great. For that matter, I highly recommend a tri club or some other group workouts in one of our 3 sports. Again the camaraderie is great, but tips also come easily from more experience athletes. Plus, this can work for those considering a personal trainer. Being pushed by a knowledgeable teammate can take you to the next level, whatever that may be.

In addition to morning swims, I occasionally get in afternoon swims. After picking up the kids, I drop my son off at his aunt’s house for a visit. Then I take my daughter to tap. As I leave tap, I take off my t-shirt and dash to the car. On the 5 minute ride to the lake, if I hit a stop light I put on my swim cap and put my goggles around my neck. I pull into the beach parking lot to see my swim buddies about to hit the water. I get rid of my sweats to reveal my swimsuit underneath. Then I pull on my wetsuit as fast as possible and hit the water. I have just enough time to get in a 1/2 mile in the open water and dash back to get the kids. It is tight, but doable.

Any extra time left?

Sometimes, little chunks of time can be used for a quick workout. I occasionally go for a run at lunch time. It is only a half hour long, and there is no shower at the end for me, but that is OK when a 2 mile run is done in work boots. Not the best idea for most, but again, just thinking outside our triangle.

Not that it is tri specific, but when I take my daughter to soccer practice I bring my own ball. Then I let my three year old loose on an unused field. There is nothing like chasing a three year old across an open field. You can catch them, but for how long? The same thing applies to going to the playground. I will occasionally spot my kids a head start and chase them across a field to the "finish line." Good for a quick sprint workout.

Turn up your workouts

So, what are you going to do to get your workouts turned up to "11" on the dial?  Never be afraid to 'tri' something new. Stop worrying about what others do, just get out and swim, bike and run.


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date: November 27, 2005


Father of two, devoted husband, Clydesdale, hope to become just an age grouper someday. Competing in the 40-44 bracket this year. Have done a 1/2 Ironman tri, a marathon and a bunch of sprint and oly distance races. Member of BT since 12-1-03


Father of two, devoted husband, Clydesdale, hope to become just an age grouper someday. Competing in the 40-44 bracket this year. Have done a 1/2 Ironman tri, a marathon and a bunch of sprint and oly distance races. Member of BT since 12-1-03

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